Ask the Offshore Injury Experts: What Maritime Injury Lawyers Want You to Know
Have you been hurt while working offshore? If so, you can receive payment for your on-the-job injuries, including medical expenses and lost wages.
To know how much you can recover in damages, you should understand the specifics of maritime law. Did you know that the laws governing injuries at sea are completely different from those governing land? In fact, many New Orleans personal injury lawyers don’t understand the complex aspects of maritime law.
So when you seek legal advice for your maritime injury, make sure that the attorney is an expert in maritime law.
Maritime Injury Experts
Our maritime injury lawyers in Houston and New Orleans have years of experience in this specialized area of law. We’ve helped hundreds of Louisiana and Texas clients win the payment they deserve from the companies that negligently caused injuries.
Here are some other points you should know about us:
If you want expert legal representation for your maritime injury case, contact our New Orleans law office today. If you’d like to learn a little more about this area of specialty, read on for information on these topics:
After reading about the laws surrounding maritime injury, let us know if you have any other questions. We’re happy to discuss your case during a free consultation.
Maritime Law: The Jones Act
The Jones Act was passed in 1920 to protect and maintain the United States merchant marine. The act acknowledges that maritime workers need legal protection: “From the very beginning of American civilization, courts have protected seaman.”
The act also protects maritime workers, such as offshore workers, injured on the job. Under the Jones Act, maritime workers who are injured on the job can sue for “maintenance and cure” caused by negligence or unseaworthiness. Maintenance and cure means lost wages and medical expenses. This right for maritime workers to sue an employer differs from land-based workplace injuries that are covered by workers’ compensation.
Jones Act Eligibility
Jones Act eligibility to sue a negligent employer depends on an offshore worker being classified as a “seaman.” In order to be classified as a seaman, a worker must meet these criteria:
Qualified seaman can sue employers in federal or state court and can request a jury trial. This means you need Louisiana maritime injury lawyers skilled in both the negotiating room and the courtroom. While we try to achieve a maximum settlement quickly, we’re prepared to take your case to trial if needed.
Though workers who work offshore are eligible for maritime law protections, other workers may be eligible too. For instance, workers on inland waterways may receive Jones Act protection if the inland waterway is considered commercially navigable. A waterway is commercially navigable if used for interstate or foreign commerce, such as shipping goods to another state.
The Jones Act applies a three-year statute of limitations to maritime injuries. This means that you have three years from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit against your employer. Otherwise, you lose your right to sue your employer for your injury costs. Contact a Louisiana maritime injury lawyer soon after your injury to make sure you stay within the statute of limitations.
Other Maritime Laws
Other maritime laws that may apply to your personal injury case include:
Because the laws governing maritime injuries differ from land-based personal injury laws, you need expert representation. We hold maritime law degrees and use our specialized knowledge to help workers who have been injured offshore. We’ve represented injured workers, including offshore oilfield workers, Jones Act seamen, and longshoremen. We can explain which maritime laws apply to your case and what compensation you may pursue.
Types of Maritime Accidents
Though working offshore provides an exciting work environment that contributes significantly to the US economy, it also includes risks. Maritime work is dangerous, and the hazardous work environment can lead to job-related accidents and injuries. Maritime workers might experience several types of injuries.
Slippery decks may cause workers to fall and suffer an injury. Rough seas can rock boats or platforms and cause workers to fall overboard. Companies that don’t maintain decks or railings properly could be responsible for your injury.
Whether you work on an offshore rig or a jack-up rig, you may face injury. If employers don’t follow safety regulations, it can cause lots of problems. From rigs tipping over to equipment catching on fire, employer negligence can lead to injuries.
If the maritime equipment is not properly maintained, it puts workers at risk. Equipment may catch on fire or electrocute employees. Improper ventilation systems, gas leaks, or improper fuel storage can lead to fires and explosions that may burn employees.
Your employer has a responsibility to provide you with a safe work environment. If you’re injured while working on a waterway, your employer could be liable for your injuries. Even if the accident was partially your fault, you still may be able to recover damages. An experienced maritime lawyer can help you determine if your employer was responsible for your accident.
Types of Maritime Injuries
When maritime workers encounter hazardous conditions at work, they can suffer serious injury or death. These maritime worker injuries may result from employer negligence:
If you’re injured due to your employer’s negligence, it may impact your ability to work. While you’re out of work, your medical bills can pile up. In order to pay your bills, you need financial help from your negligent employer. An offshore injury attorney in our New Orleans office can help you determine what compensation your employer owes you.
Compensation for Maritime Injuries
Workers who suffer injuries while working in a maritime job can receive compensation for their injuries. If you’re worried about causing your employer economic harm, know that insurance covers most worker injuries. You’ll likely face an insurance company, not your employer, at the negotiating table. The insurance company will pay your injury damages without bankrupting your employer.
Personal injury compensation covers both economic and non-economic damages.
A maritime employee can sue their employer for economic damages, including medical bills and lost wages. This category includes the “maintenance and cure” provided by the Jones Act. Workers receive maintenance in the form of living expenses (like rent, food, and transportation) while they are out of work. Maintenance payments usually discontinue when the accident victim returns to work.
Injured workers receive cure in payment for medical treatment. Medical payment continues until the worker reaches maximum medical improvement. This is the point when receiving more medical treatment won’t improve the worker’s injury.
If the ship on which a worker was injured is found to be unseaworthy, the worker can receive additional compensation. An unseaworthy ship means that the employer did not maintain the vessel properly, creating an unsafe work environment. A worker injured on an unseaworthy ship can sue for non-economic damages. These damages include pain and suffering and loss of companionship resulting from the injury.
If the employer refuses to pay maintenance and cure, the employee may sue for punitive damages. This payment is designed to teach employers a lesson about treating employees fairly. The court usually reserves punitive damages for employers who exhibit terrible behavior.
Wrongful Death Claims
If a maritime worker is killed on the job, a family member may sue the employer for wrongful death. Just like injury requirements under the Jones Act, wrongful death claims require specific eligibility. An employee’s death has to occur while serving a vessel on navigable waters. If the employee’s death occurs in other conditions, maritime law may not apply. An experienced offshore injury attorney can help you determine which laws apply to your wrongful death case.
What to Do When You’re Injured Offshore
If you sustain an offshore injury, you’ll want to take careful steps to aid your physical and financial recovery.
Report Your Accident or Injury
Tell your employer about your injury as soon as you can, and stick to the facts without embellishing your story. When you report your injury right away, it helps prove that you were injured at work instead of elsewhere.
Sign Required Forms
Fill out any required accident reporting forms. Review your employer’s reporting of the accident, and make sure the report is accurate. Then sign the forms and obtain any required supervisor signature.
Seek Medical Assistance
Get medical help as soon as you realize you’re injured. If you return to work while injured, it could delay your case. Instead, seek medical attention and don’t return to work if your injury hinders your ability to work.
See an Independent Physician
When you seek medical assistance, go to an independent physician rather than one your employer recommends. Doctors affiliated with your employer may not diagnose your injuries accurately.
Follow Doctor’s Orders
After you see an independent physician, follow the medical recommendations. If you ignore your doctor’s recommendations, it may impact your ability to recover damages for your injury.
Talk to an Attorney
It’s best to call a maritime injury lawyer in Houston or New Orleans soon after you’re injured. Your attorney can help you complete required paperwork and make sure you give needed statements to your employer. The offshore injury attorney will also help you evaluate any potential damages claims.
When you’re shocked by a sudden injury at work, it can be hard to remember all these steps. If you need support during your recovery process, call an experienced maritime attorney. Your offshore injury attorney will help you seek medical attention while preserving evidence against your employer. Having an attorney on your side means you can focus on recovery while your attorney handles your personal injury claim.
Contact a New Orleans Maritime Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured while working offshore, you need an attorney to fight for your rights. That attorney must be experienced in maritime law in order to effectively negotiate with your employer. Our experienced maritime attorneys aren’t scared of a fight, no matter the size of the company that hurt you. We’ve gone up against some of the biggest businesses and insurance companies in the industry. We’ll fight for your legal rights and work to get you the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll review your case and let you know if we can help. Don’t worry about finding money for a retainer, either. If we think we can win your case, we work on contingency. This means that you owe us nothing until we win your case. Call our New Orleans maritime law attorneys today for a free case review.